Closing birdie sees Lowry dip under par as Smith and Cink set pace at Harbour Town
Australian cards 62 to pip American veteran by one shot in opening round of RBC Heritage
Ireland’s Shane Lowry plays a shot from a bunker on the 17th hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Familiarity hasn’t bred any contempt for Stewart Cink, certainly not as far as the 47-year-old’s relationship with Harbour Town Golf Links is concerned, as he continued his long-time love affair with the South Carolina course in firing an eight-under-par 63 that left him a stroke adrift of Australian Cameron Smith after the opening round of the RBC Heritage.
For Shane Lowry, however, a round that promised much after starting with back-to-back birdies (on the 10th and 11th) lost its way for a time only for a closing birdie to salvage a one-under-par 70; while Graeme McDowell, a past champion, struggled with his game and signed for a 73 after a topsy-turvy opening round that featured four birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey at the 12th where he was in the rough off the tee, found a greenside bunker with his approach and ran up a six.
Lowry – coming in off a tied-21st finish in Augusta – covered the front nine in 33, pitching in on the ninth for birdie, but then suffered three bogeys on his homeward run (on the first, third and seventh) with a lone birdie on the Par-5 second hole until his 12-footer for birdie on the ninth, his closing hole.
A winner back in 2000 and again in 2004, Cink – whose only career Major win came in the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry – was back on favoured terrain and again firing his way into contention.
Although starting his round with a water ball into the lake on the 10th and running up a double-bogey, Cink recovered with seven birdies and an eagle (on the fifth, his 14th): “I feel so relaxed here. I think it’s the vibe. Is it the week after the Masters vibe, or is it the Hilton Head vibe? Maybe a little bit of both. Coming after the grindhouse that is Augusta National can be, especially this year, conditions were pretty tough, it’s nice to come here and relax a little bit, [to] exhale,” said Cink.
The 63 was a career-low – later bettered by Smith, who included a hole-out from a bunker on the 17th and finished his round with a close-range putt for birdie for a 62 – for Cink. “It really was a very smooth round once I got past the obstacle of the first hole. It was probably one of the worst opening drives I ever hit in my life . . . you’d think that’s a bad way to start, but in a way it’s a wake-up call. After playing the Masters and being super focused and intense, to come and be lazy on the first shot was kind of like a slap in the face and it got my attention.”
Smith, in a rich vein of form of late and off the back of a top-10 at the Masters, continued that run with a hugely impressive display of ball-striking.
England’s Matt Wallace, third in the Texas Open a fortnight ago and 34th in the Masters as he pursues his bid to claim a PGA Tour card, opened with a 65 and, like Cink, created the “vibe” as a reason for his good play. “I like the vibe, the chilled vibe,” he said. Last year’s US PGA champion, Collin Morikawa, also got to the clubhouse at six under par with a birdie on the 18th to close out his round of 65.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Alejandro Canizares shot a five-under-par 67 to take the first-round lead in the Austrian Open at Atzenbrugg, a shot clear of a quartet that included former world number one Martin Kaymer. Paul Dunne (73) was the best of the Irish contingent with Cormac Sharvin (75), Gavin Moynihan (77) and Jonny Caldwell (80) in a fight to survive the midway cut.
RBC Heritage first round scores (USA unless stated, Par 71)
62 Cameron Smith (Aus)
63 Stewart Cink
65 Collin Morikawa, Matt Wallace (Eng)
66 Billy Horschel, Charles Howell III, Harold Varner III
67 Daniel Berger, Corey Conners (Can), Austin Cook, Lucas Glover, Brian Harman, Tom Hoge, Mackenzie Hughes (Can), Kyoung-Hoon Lee (Kor), Kevin Streelman
68 Wesley Bryan, Sergio Garcia (Spa), Brian Gay, Branden Grace (Rsa), Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Charley Hoffman, Sung Jae Im (Kor), Sung-Hoon Kang (Kor), Danny Lee (Nzl), Troy Merritt, Matthew NeSmith, Carlos Ortiz (Mex), Adam Schenk, Robert Streb, Vaughn Taylor, Michael Thompson, Danny Willett (Eng), Will Zalatoris
69 Abraham Ancer (Mex), Cameron Davis (Aus), Brice Garnett, Scott Harrington, Russell Henley, Ian Poulter (Eng), Brandt Snedeker, Nick Taylor (Can), Kevin Tway, Camilo Villegas (Col), Richy Werenski
70 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Rafael Campos (Pur), Wyndham Clark, Harris English, Jim Furyk, Doug Ghim, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Matt Kuchar, Andrew Landry, Shane Lowry (Irl), Robert MacIntyre (Sco), Ryan Moore, Scott Piercy, Andrew Putnam, Rory Sabbatini (Svk), Kyle Stanley, Sepp Straka (Aut), Brian Stuard, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd
71 Patrick Cantlay, Jason Dufner, Tyler Duncan, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Harry Higgs, Si Woo Kim (Kor), Russell Knox (Sco), Anirban Lahiri (Ind), Maverick McNealy, Alexander Noren (Swe), Chase Seiffert, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood (Eng)
72 Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Ryan Armour, John Augenstein, Sam Burns, Bill Haas, Bo Hoag, Zach Johnson, Michael Kim, Kevin Kisner, Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn), Tom Lewis (Eng), Sebastian Munoz (Col), Henrik Norlander (Swe), Chengtsung Pan (Tai), Pat Perez, Patrick Rodgers, Nick Watney, Aaron Wise
73 Scott Brown, Luke Donald (Eng), Tommy Gibson, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Mark Hubbard, Adam Long, Hunter Mahan, Peter Malnati, Denny McCarthy, Graeme McDowell (NIrl), Ted Potter Jr., Robby Shelton, Scott Stallings, Martin Trainer, Bo Van Pelt
74 Paul Casey (Eng), Chesson Hadley, Beau Hossler, Patton Kizzire, Luke List, Davis Love III, Ben Martin, William McGirt, Kevin Na, J. T. Poston
75 Will Gordon, Jim Herman, Chez Reavie, Xinjun Zhang (Chn)
76 K. J. Choi (Kor), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Michael Gligic (Can), Adam Hadwin (Can), Brandon Hagy
80 Bryson Nimmer
81 Doc Redman
Austrian Open first round scores (British unless stated, Par 72)
67 Alejandro Canizares (Spa)
68 Martin Kaymer (Ger), John Catlin (USA), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa)
69 Richard Mansell, Jeff Winther (Den), Pedro Oriol (Spa), Daniel Gavins
70 David Ravetto (Fra), Thomas Detry (Bel), David Drysdale, Grant Forrest, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Ewen Ferguson, Bernd Ritthammer (Ger), Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den), Hurly Long (Ger)
71 Kurt Kitayama (USA), Joost Luiten (Ned), Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den), Matthias Schwab (Aut), Justin Walters (Rsa), Adrian Meronk (Pol), Benjamin Poke (Den), Adrien Saddier (Fra), Svn-Hwan Kim (Kor), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa), Emilio Cuartero (Spa)
72 Ashun Wu (Chn), Callum Shinkwin, Zander Lombard (Rsa), Niklas Regner (Aut), Soeren Kjeldsen (Den), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Darius van Driel (Ned), Maverick Antcliff (Aus), Shiv Chawrasia (Ind), Niklas Lemke (Swe), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Wil Besseling (Ned), Max Schmitt (Ger), Chase Hanna (USA)
73 Chris Wood, Maximilian Steinlechner (Aut), James Morrison, Marcus Armitage, Paul Dunne (Irl), Lorenzo Scalise (Ita), Damien Perrier (Fra), Martin Leth Simonsen (Den), Matthew Baldwin, Daniel Young, Berry Henson (USA)
74 Matt Ford, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Sam Horsfield, Austin Bautista (Aus), Alejandro Del Rey (Spa), Timon Baltl (Aut), Martin Wiegele (Aut), Dean Burmester (Rsa), Sebastian Heisele (Ger), Oliver Farr (Wal), Lars van Meijel (Ned), Dale Whitnell, Tyler Koivisto (USA), Nicolai von Dellingshausen (Ger)
75 Richard McEvoy, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), David Law, Alexander Kopp (Aut), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Nino Bertasio (Ita), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Sean Crocker (USA), Ross Fisher, Richard Bland, Matthew Jordan, Ricardo Santos (Por), Cormac Sharvin (NIrl), Yi-Keun Chang (Kor), Rhys Enoch (Wal), Eduardo de la Riva (Spa), Stanislav Matus (Cze), Aaron Zemmer (Ita), Garrick Porteous
76 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Harry Ellis, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Ashley Chesters, Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Carlos Pigem (Spa), Clement Sordet (Fra), Bryce Easton (Rsa), Louis de Jager (Rsa), Anton Karlsson (Swe), Pep Angles (Spa), Craig Howie, Bernard Neumayer (Aut)
77 Justin Harding (Rsa), Alexander Bjoerk (Swe), Deyen Lawson (Aus), Lukas Nemecz (Aut), Adria Arnaus (Spa), Julian Suri (USA), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), David Howell, Aaron Cockerill (Can), Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra), David Coupland, Gavin Moynihan (Irl), Marcel Schneider (Ger), Jordan Wrisdale, Euan Walker, Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind)
78 Renato Paratore (Ita), Jack Senior, Robin Roussel (Fra), Toby Tree, Tom Gandy Isle of Man, Philip Eriksson (Swe), Christoph Bleier (Aut), Ignacio Elvira (Spa)
79 Scott Jamieson, Lee Slattery, Ben Evans, Liam Johnston, Alexander Knappe (Ger)
80 Sebastian Garcia (Spa), Pedro Figueiredo (Por), Jonathan Caldwell (NIrl), Ondrej Lieser (Cze), Todd Clements
81 Jake McLeod (Aus), Sam Broadhurst
82 Laurenz Kubin (Aut)
82 Hugo Dobson
84 Janne Kaske (Fin)
86 Thomas Thurloway